For a small business, dry spells can be a big concern, especially when it comes to cash flow. However, dry spells can also be a positive time if you prepare for and leverage them effectively. I discuss some of these strategies in my blog: 5 Ways to Survive Business Seasonality Without Going Broke.
Aside from surviving a dry spell, here are some ideas for making them work in your favor and even help you grow and operate your business more efficiently.
Use Them to Create Work
When work is copious, and business operations need your attention, it’s not easy to step back and think about what’s next. Unless you are super confident about your future pipeline then a quiet spell forces you to look for more business and go asking for it in new places – whether it means reintroducing your business to past clients, looking at new market opportunities, and so on.
Get Your Cash Flow Forecasting in Order
If you haven’t done so already, create a cash flow forecast so that you have a clear view of when money comes in, when it goes out and what money you are left with at the end of each month after you have paid your expenses and recorded your income. Your forecasting should let you know well ahead of time whether your cash flow is heading into negative territory and give you a chance to revisit your budget and review your options.
Organize Your Admin
Behind on your paperwork or accounting processes? Now is the perfect time to get your records in order. Back up important files to the cloud. Make sure you are retaining the correct IRS records.
Update Your Website and Get Social Savvy
What about your website? Is it up-to-date? Do you even have one? According to my fellow Fundbox blogger and small business marketing expert, Rieva Lesonsky, 52% of small business owners don’t have a website.
Are you still figuring out how to use social media to market your product or service (only one in 10 have)? Now is the time to snap out of it! As Lesonsky, explains “If you’re guilty of any of the above-mentioned actions, you’re essentially burying your head in the sand. And you simply cannot grow your business if that’s the case.”
Get Ready for the Mobile Consumer Revolution
Another important consideration – is your website optimized for mobile devices? Market research shows that the majority of consumers are “multi-screening” meaning they access the on both their mobile devices and desktops, so a consistent viewing experience is needed across all. Is your site mobile-friendly?
Still not sure if you should make the investment? A good rule of thumb is that if your website requires viewers to take any kind of action, such as sign-up for a newsletter, book a room, or schedule a service, then you should think about making it easier for them with a mobile responsive version of your site.
Find Out What People are Saying About You
Many small businesses bury their heads in the sand when it comes to dealing with feedback and criticism (the latter being one reason so many shy away from social media). But if you’re to improve and grow your business, you need to know what people are saying about you and your competitors online. Set up Google Alerts to track mentions of your business and your competitors. My preferred tool is Mention, which monitors social mentions in addition to online mentions. You could also put together a survey to get direct feedback from your customers.
Never stop thinking of ways to listen more.
Expand Your Skills and Network
Use the quiet time to add to your skillset, whether it’s learning a new accounting skill or polishing up your marketing smarts. There’s no need to break the bank either; Small Business Development Centers offer a lot of low-cost training workshops in your community. You could even work with a mentor to help you fine tune areas of your business that you’re struggling with. SCORE Mentors is a great organization (sponsored by the SBA) who can pair you with a mentor for free – online or in person.
If networking has taken a back seat of late, get out there and meet people (it will serve your business well in the long term).